I don’t understand this kind of thing at all. I didn’t understand it when Anthony Weiner nuked his career; I haven’t understood it in similar cases before and since then. The current episode comes from the world of baseball, which apparently had a vote or something last year that all news about the sport had to be embarrassing until the stars turn cold.
Jared Porter, who labored in the trenches for the Boston Red Sox from 2004-15 (there was obviously another vote that all of the worst stories had to be connected to the team I’ve rooted for like a fool since I was 11) and finally scaled the metaphorical ladder and got his dream job, becoming general manager of the New York Mets last month. But the team discovered yesterday that in 2016, while he was was working for the Chicago Cubs in their front office, Porter sent graphic, uninvited text messages and images to a female sports reporter, includingso-called “dick-pics.”
Mets owner Steve Cohen said Porter was fired this morning. “We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
Porter had agreed to a four-year contract after spending the past four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks as senior vice president and assistant general manager. When he engaged in this per se unethical and almost certainly illegal behavior, he was 35. He was no kid. ESPN, which broke the story yesterday precipitating the Mets action, said the woman was a foreign sportswriter who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball. She met Porter in a Yankee Stadium elevator in June 2016, and she said they spoke briefly about international baseball and exchanged business cards. She never spoke to him again. But Porter started texting her compulsively, first complimenting her appearance, then inviting her to meet him in different cities, and finally asking why she was ignoring him. He sent the first “dick-pic” and after the woman ignored about 60 more texts he sent another. The woman told ESPN that Porter’s harassment was a primary reason that she quit sports journalism and returned to her home country.
What Porter did was workplace sexual harassment by definition, and no sentient male in any workplace in America could possibly not know that in 2016. No decent, ethical male shouldn’t have known that in 1926, if they had texts and selfies then.
This is amusing: ESPN said it contacted Porter last night and he acknowledged the texts, but insisted that the “dick-pics” were not of him. “Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images,” he said.
Oh! Then never mind, that’s okay then!
This is also amusing, or at least ridiculous: Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement that “Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse, and has previously apologized for his actions.” Yyyyyyyyeah, I’d say he made an “error in judgment” all right, if you consider things like, “Hey! I think I’ll see what happens in I put my face under that pile-driver!” errors in judgment. What decisions like that demonstrate is that an individual has no judgment and must never be trusted with more responsibility than is required to put on socks by himself. Remorse? I bet he’s remorseful: he just made himself unemployable for life. As for apologizing, you can’t apologize for what he did. It’s like apologizing to the squished body you just ran over with your truck.
Doing something like this—and yes, I consider Jeffrey Toobin’s conduct in the category of “like this” (Bill Clinton’s too)—is inconsistent with a man rising to the top levels of management in a challenging and competitive field. How can someone have sufficient judgment to succeed in such a field for decades without being hauled off in hancuffs or a strait jacket and not have sufficiently operable ethics alarms installed for the tiniest flicker of the thought, “Gee, I wonder if I should send some naked, erect penis photos to this woman I met at work who barely knows me” not to trigger the intra-cranial message,
thus rattling his teeth?
I just don’t get it. It’s easy to say “He’s sick,” but is he sick or is it the culture that’s sick? Is the Weiner virus lurking out there still, the weird product of the worst of the Sixties, the backlash against feminist excesses, and #MeToo? Jared Porter is ruined and deserves to be ruined, but isn’t this in the category of unethical behavior that should literally never happen?